Today I am so pleased to welcome Roan Parrish to Joyfully Jay. Roan has come to talk to us about her latest release with Avon Gale, Heart of the Steal (which I reviewed here and gave 5 stars). Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
Amory Vaughn steals art. Not all the time. Not even very often. But ever now and then, light will hit a certain painting a certain way, and it will make him want to break all the rules.
I may not have the skill (or the zillion-dollar-an-hour lawyers on retainer) to act on that desire myself, but I certainly understand the impulse. When I wander through museums, I step close, press my face closer, hovering right outside the line where I’ll set off the alarm. Knowing that thousands of people have looked at what I’m looking at from the same distance just makes me want to see it closer up. Knowing that thousands of people have stared at it and abided by the rules just makes me desperate to break them. And the galleries where there aren’t alarms … well, I’d be lying if I said I don’t lean in until my nose is almost touching the canvas and breathe in the scent of the paint. I’d be lying if I said that every once in a while I don’t run the barest tip of a finger over the surface and imagine the motion of the brush that painted it. What can I say? I like to touch things.
So, if I did have the skillset, the rank entitlement, and the wall space, what paintings would I want to steal? Here are a few I wouldn’t mind sneaking down to my basement to sniff (WOW that sounds so creepy. But I mean it).*
*Note: No paintings were stolen in the making of this post. If one of these paintings happens to go missing in the future, I am certain I know absolutely nothing about it, and I’m positive I have an alibi. I was at dinner at my mother’s house, surely. Meatloaf. Scouts’ honor.
1. Kehinde Wiley, Le Roi a la Chasse II, 2007 [http://kehindewiley.com/works/rumors-of-war/]
This is from Wiley’s series “Rumors of War.” The compositions and poses are inspired by classic equestrian portraiture, while the subjects are contemporarily clothed men Wiley met on in Harlem, around 125th Street. Wiley is all about combining the visual vocabulary of money, status, and power with the people and accoutrements of contemporary urban life. The paintings in this series are huge, some as large as nine and ten feet, so the scale of the horses and the men echo their power, and the delicate decorative work juxtaposes it. It’s done in enamel, so the colors are luxe and have a depth and shine that makes me want to touch them. Which, if I stole it, I would do all the time.
2. James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Nocturne in Gray and Gold, Westminster Bridge, 1871/2 [http://collections.glasgowmuseums.com/starobject.html?oid=36461]
Whistler was the first to borrow the term “nocturne” from musical terminology and use it to describe the moody nighttime scenes he painted. I love Whistler’s nocturnes for the way they simultaneously reveal and obscure their subjects. The close chromatic palette makes me want to peer into the darkness and seek out the faint spangles of light barely visible through the polluted darkness of the Thames.
3. Vincent van Gogh, The Postman (Joseph-Étienne Roulin), 1889 [http://www.barnesfoundation.org/collections/art-collection/object/4720/the-postman-joseph-atienne-roulin?pkgID=2112&rNo=154]
I never cared about this painting until I saw it in person and kept walking back through the Barnes gallery to look at it over and over. I am a sucker for a patterned background in a painting, but the way van Gogh uses the same colors in the wallpaper as in the face of the portrait, just in different ratios, makes it look like the man and the environment are composed of the same material. It’s gorgeous and uncanny, and has the kind of rough brushwork that would benefit from BEING TOUCHED BY ME.
4. Maya Hayuk, contemporary [http://mayahayuk.com/]
I don’t actually want to steal this because I would have to steal the whole building and it wouldn’t fit in my hypothetical creepy basement, but Hayuk’s murals, painted all around the world, fill me with a sense of dizzy longing to dance, smoke, talk, and drink all night, and make out under black lights. They have such energy and joy that just walking past one makes people grin. Can’t really do better as art.
5. Cy Twombly, Fifty Days at Ilium, 1978 [http://www.philamuseum.org/collections/permanent/85709.html]
Fifty Days at Ilium is a ten panel series in oil, oil crayon, and graphite. It’s housed in a room at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, in the back corner of the contemporary painting wing, and every time I go, I sit on a bench and stare at the paintings, trying to figure out what it is I find so captivating. Most of the canvasses are more white space than color. One of my favorites of the series looks like someone tried to rub out a pencil smudge and then scribbled under it in blue crayon. Why, why, why am I so obsessed with it? Don’t know really, but I think part of it is how furious the whole series feels—how immediate and frenetic and bellicose (not shocking, given the subject matter, the final 50 days of the Trojan War)—while all being suspended forever, still, in a silent, white-painted room. The screams of a war echoing through the ages, frozen in silence, right in front of me.
Responsible, disciplined William Fox channeled his love for art and his faith in the rules into being an FBI Art Crimes agent. Right and wrong, justice and injustice—the differences are clear, and Will has spent his career drawing a line between them. Maybe his convictions have cost him relationships, but he’s not willing to compromise what he knows is right. Until the night he meets Amory Vaughn.
As the head of his family’s philanthropic foundation, Vaughn knows very well that being rich and powerful can get him almost anything he wants. And when he meets endearingly grumpy and slightly awkward William Fox, he wants him more than he’s wanted anything. Vaughn is used to being desired for his name and his money, but Will doesn’t care about either.
When Vaughn falls back on old habits and attempts to impress Will by stealing a painting Will admires, their nascent bond blows up in his face. But Vaughn isn’t willing to give up on the glimpse of passion he saw the night he took Will apart. Before Will knows it, he’s falling for the man he should have arrested, and Vaughn has to realize that some things can’t be bought or stolen. Love has to be given freely. But can a man who lives by the rules, and a man who thinks the rules don’t apply to him, ever see eye to eye?
Heart of the Steal is a standalone romance with a happy ending. It features a Southern gentleman who thinks he’s always right, a buttoned-up FBI agent who secretly likes his buttons unbuttoned, and wall sex. And desk sex. And picnic blanket sex.
Roan Parrish lives in Philadelphia where she is gradually attempting to write love stories in every genre.
When not writing, she can usually be found cutting her friends’ hair, meandering through whatever city she’s in while listening to torch songs and melodic death metal, or cooking overly elaborate meals. She loves bonfires, winter beaches, minor chord harmonies, and self-tattooing. One time she may or may not have baked a six-layer chocolate cake and then thrown it out the window in a fit of pique.
She is represented by Courtney Miller-Callihan of Handspun Literary Agency.